Paige Parsons is a force to be reckoned with. Paige – who in the roller derby world, skates under the name Shania Pain – grew up playing ringette since the age of 8. She continued to play the sport throughout her undergraduate university career.
But when she moved to Whitehorse, Yukon, there was no ringette league in sight. Without ringette, she sought out a different kind of sport. “I was hooked after the first practice, and that was over six years ago,” Paige elaborates on her initial experience playing roller derby.
Today, Paige can be found on the roller derby track playing for the Edmonton flat track roller derby league, E-Ville. Before Edmonton, she played in Whitehorse and Ottawa.
In 2018, Paige was a proud member of Team Canada in the World Cup. The Canadian roller derby team went on to win bronze. The experience also offered Paige the opportunity to play against one of her heroes, Bonnie Thunders. Paige considers it overall one of the highlights of her roller derby career, “It was such an incredible experience. A personal achievement I had during the cup was scoring 50 points in one jam, which tied the existing world record. That was really cool!”
And roller derby isn’t the easiest of sports. With high contact, players must constantly remain aware and in the zone at all times.
Essentially, each team has 5 skaters at a time. Paige plays the position of jammer. The jammer is the only skater who can score points. Paige adds, “Some people joke that the jammer is the ball.” The other 4 skaters are blockers. The blockers use various tactics, such as body contact, to block the jammer – hence their name. The jammer scores points by passing the opposing team’s blockers.
Paige puts it simply, “It’s often a combination of evasion and pushing.” She’s racing the other jammer and the clock, while trying to avoid the other team’s blockers. At the same time, her team’s blockers are trying to stop the opposing team’s jammer.
Successful jammers – like Paige – require speed, strength, and agility. She also states that there is a powerful mental component as well, “You have to have the wherewithal to listen to your coach and know the whereabouts of the opposing jammer, so you can potentially call off the jam – while simultaneously trying to throw your body through a crowd of other bodies.”
It’s safe to say that playing a high-intensity sport comes with its fair share of risk. In the spring of 2017, Paige sustained a whiplash and concussion injury. She claims, “It’s the worst and most lingering injury I’ve dealt with.” Initially, she was off-skates for a full month. She credits her recovery to a combination of physio, massage, and chiropractic care. Paige adds, “I have also been supported by my league, team, and coach to put health and safety first, and they make me feel like I can step back if I’m worried I’ve taken a bad hit.”
When asked what keeps her motivated, Paige replied simply, “My team.” She further elaborates, “I’ve lived my whole life playing team sports, and I love working toward a common goal, trying to support and push each other to get there. I love to move, and I am also wildly competitive. Roller derby just keeps offering me new challenges that I can’t resist taking on.”
Paige further doesn’t necessarily rely on any superstitious pre-game tradition. However, she does state that pre-game visualization is something she frequently turns to before a big match. She also fuels up post-game with protein and carbs as soon as she can.
As for new roller derby players, Paige says, “give yourself permission to try and fail.” It’s a tough sport with a variety of challenges, but she firmly believes that it offers a “space for every body type and ability to succeed.”